A day or two after waving our Christmas guests goodbye (with a sigh of relief on my part), we decided that a bit of exploring was in order. Friends had told us about the small but worthwhile Amatikulu Nature Reserve which is a mere 25 minute drive from our house. So, we packed a picnic of sorts and headed in the direction of Amatikulu … Continued
South Africa is one of the best country’s in the world for road trips – with nigh on 750 000 kilometres of road (the longest road network on the continent, and one of the ten longest road networks globally). The country is probably best known for its Garden Route – a road trip that winds its way up the coast between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, passing some of the most incredible scenery, beaches and coastline in the world en route.
But there are other shorter, just as extraordinary, road trips around the country. We’ve put together 6 weekend trips for you to choose from for your 2015 diaries. Few of them are more than five hours’ drive but there is much to do and see en route. They give credence to the slogan: local is lekker. Continued
South Africa is a land abundant in the weird and wonderful, beautiful and a little strange at times. There are around 300 mammalian species in South Africa alone, as well as hundreds of amphibians, insects, reptiles, and bird species. With this variety and scope, it is no wonder that some of the animals found in South Africa have some peculiar characteristics… Continued
Fynbos, which is Dutch for fine-leaved plants (even though most fynbos is ericoid and not fine), is in high demand. It’s valuable because it is under threat – due in no small part to agriculture, invading plant species, and human development. Fynbos is a totally unique kind of vegetation that makes up 80 per cent of the Cape Floral Kingdom, two-thirds of which are found only in the Cape (nowhere else on earth).
To put it in perspective: Table Mountain alone hosts as many plant species as the UK; all 1 500 species of them. Which makes the Western Cape more botanically diverse than the richest tropical rainforest in South America, according to WWF. And that includes the Amazon… Continued
In December, while we had a bit of free time we decided to try and see a bit of our local area … our journey took us to the coastal town of Mtunzini which is located just 90 minutes drive north of Durban. The word Mtunzini is derived from the Zulu word emthunzini which means ‘a place in the shade’ and in the history of this coastal town it refers more to the place under the milkwood trees near the Mlalazi River.
Overlooking the Umlalazi Nature Reserve, Mtunzini is a lovely coastal town, well known for its status as a conservancy and also for being a town with a safe, clean and peaceful environment. As had already spent the morning exploring the Amatikulu Nature Reserve we were in need of lunch when we arrived in Mtunzini and stopped for a quick bite to eat at The Clay Oven Restaurant. Continued
Remote beaches, wild life reserves deep in what remains of true African bush, mountains that tower thousands of metres above sea level, skies filled with stars, and the vast, lonely expanse of the Karoo are but the first few on a list that reads like a treasure trove of collected highlights of a world tour.
We list 10 places and spaces to break away from it all and escape the crowds – for a day; for a week – the choice is yours… Continued
The inner-city trend of outdoor cinema is fast filling the void that the demise of the drive-in left in the lives of many South Africans.
It’s already a rage worldwide and places like Monaco, Wroclaw (Poland), Broom and Sydney (Australia), London, Colorado, Dusseldorf, and Los Angeles regularly host movies on giant screens in parks, in squares, on rooftops and even in jacuzzis – like the Hot Tub Cinema on the roof of Rockwell House in Shoreditch, London.
The UK outdid itself in this category with a rash of cycle-powered outdoor cinemas popping up around the country – in Manchester, Bristol, Brighton, at Womad and locations around London (the skinny wheeled kind of bike is the only bike suitable for the generators, in case you are interested).
Given our history for outdoor drive-ins (the last South African drive-in, in Pretoria’s Menlyn Park, closed as recently as February 2014!), it was only time before the good weather, self-evident outdoor venues and enterprising individuals combined to host similar events in South African cities. Continued
A few weeks ago a friend and I took a trip from where we farm in Kearsney to the town of Greytown. I must admit, I had driven through Greytown on my way to the Natal Midlands many times before but had never taken the time to stop and see what the town has to offer.
The landscape is for one is completely different; here the hills are covered in green forests compared to the sugar-cane fields that makeup the Kearsney landscape. The climate is wonderful too; on the day we visited it was beautifully cool and misty … in fact the drive home on the windy R74 took much longer than anticipated due to the misty, wet conditions (it’s not always easy to see a cow wandering across the road in the mist!) Continued
Greyton IS BEST KNOWN FOR its magnificent piece of peace, tucked away from the N2 but still close enough to Cape Town with its oak tree lined streets surrounded by the majestic Riviersonderend Mountains.
GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN whilst meandering in the Nature Reserve along the Gobos River with an easily accessible waterfall or from the top of the Mountain whilst hiking the Loerkop Trail with a marvellous 360-degree view with the whole chain of the Riviersonderend mountains spread from east to west, with Greyton and Genadendal in sheltered positions… Continued
Known historically as ‘The Cape of Storms’ the tempestuous seas around the Cape Peninsula have battered the rocky shores, and more than a few ships, for millennia. The peninsula juts out into the ocean at the edge of the African continent, tipped by the Cape of Good Hope (which, contrary to popular myth, is not the southernmost tip of Africa – this honour is reserved for Cape L’agulhas, a little further east).
With the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean on one shore, and the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean on the other, Cape Town has historically served as a watering hole for travellers, and continues to do so today, although as a destination rather than a stopover on the Spice Route to and from Asia. Continued
Downtown Johannesburg is a dangerous place. In May 1999, not five years after the first democratic government was elected in South Africa, the Guardian published an article entitled: Johannesburg, the most dangerous city on earth? The chilling article gives personal accounts of death by car-jacking, muggings and rapes, and cites frightening statistics about the country’s daily murder and rape rates.
It presents Johannesburg as nothing short of a ‘rough, provisional kind of place’ that has ‘never quite shaken off its arbitrary, squatter-camp beginnings’. (ouch!) It is not a pretty picture.
Johannesburg’s downtown has attracted many illegal immigrants. The CBD, dense with skyscrapers, is also dense with people. If statistics are to be believed 217 000 inner city residents live in 37 000 dwelling units. The threat of vagrancy and crime keeps people away. But. Things are changing.
Fast forward to 2014 and news articles now convey Jo’burg’s downtown as ‘less dodgy’. They describe an urban renaissance transforming the city’s once-feared streets into welcoming urban spaces. One of the major contributors to this renaissance is the Maboneng Precinct.
Here are 10 Reasons Downtown Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct is the Place to Live, Eat and Visit… Continued
Sophia (Sophy) Gray designed no fewer than 40 of the 50 Anglican churches built during her husband Robert Gray’s bishopric. She was the first woman to practise architecture in South Africa, and one of the earliest to do so in the world. No mean feat for a woman who was a wife during the Victorian era, and a mother to five children.
Perhaps Sophy managed to escape the full impact of the crinoline, and its relegation of women to the home, when she moved with her husband from England after he was assigned the colonial bishopric of the Cape of Good Hope. Part of his remit was to build churches.
Robert and Sophy Gray arrived in 1848 to settle on the farm Boschheuvel, originally known as Wijnberg, and later called Bishopscourt. With her Sophy brought drawings and plans of church architecture that she felt would best adapt to South African conditions. She added her own sketches of styles and details that shaped the form of Anglican churches all over South Africa, conferring often with the British ecclesiastical architect W. Butterfield. Continued
Calling Mossel Bay a ‘harbour town’ is a misnomer. It does have a harbour, but ‘town’ suggests small, when in reality some 60 000 people live there. Mossel Bay is big enough to give the impression of a city. What adds to this impression is that it sprawls, merging seamlessly with the beach side villages of Klein Brak River, Reebok, Tergniet, Groot Brakrivier and Glentana so that the entire bay is a twinkle at night (provided Eskom isn’t load shedding).
Travel brochures tend to gloss over Mossel Bay’s domination by oil refineries; from the N2 they are all you can see between the highway and the harbour. Mossgas’ gas-to-liquids refinery meets 7% of the country’s liquid fuel needs, initiated 22 years ago when gas was discovered offshore.
As a result, light industry monopolises Mossel Bay to such a degree that one’s initial sentiment is to give the town a wide berth. How wrong this impression, and how much more Mossel Bay has to offer than one thinks… Continued
Wines in South Africa do not start and end with the Cape Winelands (Franschhoek, Paarl, Stellenbosch), although one is hard pushed to find a comparable abundance of excellence in so small an area
The Overberg, Orange Free State, Northern Cape, and even the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, produce outstanding wines. And the country’s capacity to grow vines extends as far north as Bronkhorstspruit, 50 km east of Pretoria. You will even find vines in Mpumalanga.
But you would be right in assuming that vines grow particularly well in the Cape. The breezes off the Atlantic Ocean, the cold winters and hot summers, the winter rainfall – all combine to create the perfect scenario for wine production.